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Light frame covered with paper or cloth, often provided with a balancing tail, and designed to be flown in the air at the end of a long string; it is held aloft by wind. Its name comes from the kite, a member of the hawk family. Kites have been in use in Asia from time immemorial, and religious significance is still connected to some ceremonial kite-flying there. In a famous experiment in 1752, Benjamin Franklin hung a metal key from a kite line during a storm to attract electricity. Kites were used to carry weather-recording devices aloft before the advent of balloons and airplanes. Types of kite commonly in use today include the hexagonal (or three-sticker), the malay (modified diamond), and the box kite, invented in the 1890s. Newer wing-like kites, with pairs of controlling strings for superior maneuverability, are also flown.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on kite, visit Britannica.com.